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How Lord of the Rings is like a deployment.

April 22, 2009

Admittedly the past week or so has been rough for me. Generally, I think I am doing pretty darned good job of dealing with this deployment, staying positive, going on with life and doing my best to thrive in this new situation. But lately I’m feeling kind of like I’m just going through the motions, like I am on auto-pilot. I suspect it has much to do with the month of nonexistent phone service and not being able to hear Swiss’s voice. I suspect it also has something to do with feeling like we’ve only just reached Rivendell in our epic journey to 261330870_7911a401b0_oMordor… in other words we haven’t even finished the first movie. Yes, I just referenced the Lord of the Rings trilogy and compared it to this deployment. I think it is oddly fitting. The Precious? Totally the end of this deployment. I loves the Precious. Must have the Precious! But I digress…

I think it also has something to do with being here in the civilian world and being so far removed from ‘military life’… but I know from other friend’s experiences this is just as likely to happen on a military post. See, it is starting to feel like Swiss and this deployment has been forgotten by all but a few. No one asks. No one talks about it. We talk about everything else, but somehow this deployment and how we are doing seems to be verboten. Perhaps they are afraid to talk about it. Maybe they think I might have a meltdown if it gets brought up (I won’t… I haven’t had anything even resembling a melt-down yet, well, at least not in public!). Maybe they don’t know what to say, so they don’t say anything at all. It could even be that they think I am doing perfectly fine (the curse of strong, independent women everywhere) and don’t need anything. I’m not sure what it is, I just know that I’ve just been feeling sort of invisible lately.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I am terrible at asking for the kind of ‘help’ that would go so far in making things easier. I don’t want a pity party and I don’t need help-help. I just need someone to ask “How are you doing?” or say “Let’s go get dinner some night!”. I have a fear of seeming weak because I feel like I should be able to do this all on my own, but this hasn’t exactly been what I would call easy. And I have a huge aversion to actually saying “I’m having a crap time right now, can you ask me out to dinner or drinks or come over to just hang out?”.

I know these feelings will pass… I will put my Big Girl Britches on and things will be fine again. I will keep on trucking to Mordor and focus on getting to the Precious. HOWEVER, in the spirit of choosing the right vowel (i.e.: bEtter, not bItter) here is some advice and wisdom that other MilSpouses have given me, hopefully this will help all of you too when the middle of a deployment leaves you feeling like a twee little Hobbit lost in Middle Earth with no Fellowship to get you through (okay, okay, I am done with the LOTR analogies!):

  • Don’t wait for others to make the first move. Be the one to ask someone to grab a drink after work or to come over for dinner. Sometimes people want to do the right thing, but don’t know what that is.
  • Start asking new people to do things, you can make some great new friends who may understand a little better what it’s like, and how lonely it can be when it’s just you.
  • Asking someone to go for drinks or to go to dinner or to come over for dinner is NOT a sign of inability to deal with a deployment and you will NOT be judged that way. If you have single friends, ask them to do stuff. If you have married friends, invite yourself over. Likely they haven’t already done it out of respect for you.
  • Try making a “weekly date” with some friends. That way you aren’t asking, it just IS.

(These were all suggestions by Bette, The Army Wife, SnarkyNavyWife and LAW. Thanks to all you Ladies for all your great wisdom and support!)

And here are my suggestions to any of you who do have friends with deployed spouses:

  • Just call. Don’t over-think it, just make the call and talk.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Anything from how are you doing? to What do you need? to How is your spouse? Just ask, it shows that you care and haven’t forgotten.
  • Throw out concrete invitations rather than a generic ‘call if you need anything’ (I am totally guilty of this!). A better way to offer support is to be more specific. For example, tell them that you are always free on Saturday mornings to get together for a chat & coffee, or ask them to join you and your family at a movie or event or invite them over for Holidays if their families live far away.

So here’s to Embracing the Suck, choosing the E and making it to Mordor. And a huge Thank You to all of you who have been so supportive and awesome to me in this, ahem, sucky time. (Really, I can’t help it, there is no other way to describe a deployment other than sucky.)

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2009 5:58 pm

    ok, I’ll out my self as having never managed to get through the Lord of the Rings in book form, nor have I watched the movies..{ducking to avoid the flung copies of same from our readers}..

    I call it hitting the wall. It’s kinda crashing around you and as good as we have it, with email and all… it’s not like “hearing the voice”! I got my birthday call from Chief the other day and it was the best present I got! So I can understand that frustration!

    The civilian friends – I loved the advice you gave. I’ve read a few posts on various sites – and they all say ” I hate to ask”. We are proud women, who figure we can do this all by ourselves. We cling to our military “imaginary friends” (Chief’s name for my blog friends) and we don’t want to “bother” our civilian, physically present friends. So the advice to them, to not wait for us to call and say “help” – is fantastic. I sure hope they are reading…. And don’t be proud. Proud is lonely. When you have a down day and need to SEE the person you are talking to (so calling us on the phone doesn’t count) and need to talk to someone who is actually sitting across from you – call one of them, make dinner/movie/walk by the lake (but watch out for all those geese you have there!) and let them help you, let them show you how much they care for YOU, Tucker, their friend.

    LAW

  2. April 22, 2009 6:44 pm

    Oh honey, I feel your pain and it’s like you typed what was in my head 2 years ago. I hit that same point where I felt invisible and civilians more particularly stopped asking those simple questions. And I didn’t feel comfortable just bringing it up in conversation all the time either b/c I didn’t want to sound whiny or anything. I had the same thoughts that I shouldn’t be complaining and whining b/c I’m supposed to be strong, yada yada yada. I didn’t want to be like “whoa is me, come eat dinner with me, etc.” Looking back, I should have. The way I would bring it up around non-military people if I had a bad day was I would say “I’m having an Iraq day” and people would understand and then things would kick in. Anyway, I so get what you are going through Tuck, I do! Hugs.

  3. snarkynavywife permalink*
    April 23, 2009 1:28 am

    I think every deployment, even if it’s just four months long, has moments like these. Even the “short” four-month deployments will have a time of ultimate suckage. Friends really do make all the difference. So do new classes at the local community center. And I really think your own, private rituals are nice, too. I had one during our first deployment that gave me time to just be alone. I’d hit up the local farmer’s market and get either fresh salsa and homemade chips or else pomegranates. I’d go home, put the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice on, and proceed to eat my farmer’s market dinner, pine after Colin Firth, and neglect my homework. I got to the point, after a stressful week at school or too much of the underwhelming civilian friends’ sympathy, that I really valued my Pride & Prejudice time.

    I really think it’s important to fill the time, but fill it with things that make you happy and make you forget the countdown day. And housework? Absolutely comes last. 😉

  4. FOW permalink
    April 23, 2009 11:51 pm

    I’m horrible at asking for help…I could be on fire and would swear I could put it out myself! I look at my civilian friends as an escape. When I don’t want to talk about anything Navy related and I just need to pretend that it’s normal that my husband is gone 9 months out of the year I call one of them. I think people in general aren’t great about being aware of what other people are going thru becuase they’re so caught up in their own crazy lives until you let them know that you need them.

    On a different note…LAW you don’t have to watch the movie just fast forward to the parts with Orlando Bloom where he’s using the bow and arrow. I haven’t talked to a woman yet about that movie that didn’t think he was HOT! I think it’s the ears cause in real life he does nothing for me =)

  5. April 24, 2009 12:42 am

    Snark – I love the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. It’s my go-to movie when I need some me time.

  6. April 24, 2009 2:14 am

    Oh LAW I’m glad Im not the only that hasn’t read / seen LOTR. It completely drives my husband crazy because he loves the series so much.

    And I am definitely with you Snark that Pride & Prejudice is one of my go to movies. I cant seem to get enough of it. During D’s deployment there were certain days when nothing would make me feel better except wine, pizza, my couch with a big comfy blanket and either P & P or The Notebook. Sometimes a good cry and cozy night on the couch helps too. But you have to be careful to not just fall into a trap of doing that all the time. You have to get out and actually see your friends.

  7. April 24, 2009 2:36 am

    “bEtter, not “bItter”

    Huh. Seems I’ve heard that somewhere before…

    The best advice I’ve received regarding deployments is to not just survive but to thrive. Good luck.

    • April 24, 2009 4:18 pm

      Yes, a friend told me that a while ago when we first found out about the deployment… I had never heard it before but man, it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

      Oh and S, glad to have you here!

  8. April 24, 2009 3:08 am

    Such good advice and applicable in a lot of life’s situations.

    Thanks

    S – no longer a creeper/croucher (i.e. unidentified reader)

  9. July 23, 2010 7:21 pm

    I can’t believe I just found your blog and you’re comparing deployment to LoTR. I think I might be in love with you. I went through a spouse’s deployment with a little more hope than Frodo, but about the same amount of fellowship once the actual deployment began. I’m hoping this deployment will be different and there are no Gollums out there. I think loneliness is my Gollum.

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